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Algonquin!

October 18, 2010

First of all, dear Bird Enthusiasts, thank you for enlightening me and teaching me a new word! The big ceramic spoon upon which one rests dirty utensils while cooking is called a SPOON REST. How utterly logical! Now, on to more pressing matters…

On Saturday morning, I did what I never thought I’d be capable of. I set the alarm for 4:30 am in order to meet my stellar bird group at 5:15 and be at Algonquin park by 8:30! By the time we reached the park and I stood face to face with a Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis), I had totally forgotten what mental effort it took to set the alarm for 4:30.

Turns out this gorgeous grouse is also nicknamed “Fool’s Hen” or “Stupid Chicken” (in Alaska only). The bird is so convinced of its powers of camouflage that it stays still even when people approach it from 1 or 2 meters away! Ah well… poor spruce grouse. In any event, ours was splendid. I swear, I think we made eye contact. Next was the Grey Jay (Perisoreus canadensis), which I think I saw on my last trip to Algonquin, so I wasn’t nearly as excited. Everyone in my group proceeded to feed the Grey Jay since the birds are intrepid and will eat out of your hand. I held trail mix filled hand out for about five minutes, but then proceeded to quietly devour all the trail mix. (First, I started with the peanuts, then the raisins, and then just piled everything I could into my mouth.) Have you ever woken up at 4:30 am? Well, I was starving by 9:15 and in absolutely no mood to share my loot with a Grey Jay. Besides, their beaks were looking mighty sharp that day…

The highlight of my day was a Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus) sighting:

How nifty are those colors? In real life, the pink was even brighter and almost matched my new hot pink fall jacket! I’ve always wanted to see a pink bird. Apparently Roger Tory Peterson (I’m assuming he’s a hotshot in Bird Language; I’ll look him up pronto) called the purple finch a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” I think it’s one of the most fashionable birds I’ve ever seen! Look at it, all decked out. I’d follow that purple finch just about anywhere!

Alas, we missed seeing any moose. Apparently October is a big mating month for moose, so I’m guessing they were fairly busy. Still, a slight disappointment. Ah well, a great day nevertheless.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 20, 2010 11:46 am

    What a great trip!
    A great borrower, Peterson took the raspberry-juice bit from John Burroughs, if I remember right.

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